Saturday, January 15, 2011

Things I have learned so Far . . .

I've been spinning all of 8 months now.  I have become more brave in my endeavors and thanks to my Ravelry comrades I've become more adventurous.  (   Do check it out if you knit, crochet or spin.  It's like Facebook for fiber fiends--but better!)

It's been quite a journey.  First, I'd like to give a shout out to "Babes Fiber Garden Wheels" without whom I would never have been able to afford a wheel.  And also to Craig Johnson at Worthington Acres (here in PA) who was so kind as to sell me his used Babe at an awesome price!  As there is snobbery in all walks of life, I am sure that some spinners may look at my wheel as if it is an abomination.  It is not wooden, there is nothing traditional looking about it.  It is made of PVC pipe and the spinning wheel is made of a wheelchair wheel.  It is not a wheel to be displayed and gazed upon for it's workmanship.  It is a wheel that works wonderfully and easily.  I used to look longingly at those beautiful wooden spinning wheels that cost between $1000 to maybe around $500.  That is so out of my system now.  Which leaves me so much more time to look at all the wonderful fiber out there waiting to be spun!  And if I really get bored of looking at my Babe's Wheel, one day I can paint it up add some kitsch and have fun with it like many other Babe's owners have done.

So, back to spinning . . . I have made my first "plied" yarn.  My non-spinning (and some non-knitting friends) love seeing what I'm up to with my spinning.  And when they ask me questions, I realize how much I take for granted that I have actually learned in this time!  I was recently asked what "plied yarn" is and I had to think of a way to word an explanation.  So I told them that when you spin one yarn it is called a "single".  And if you want to make a double ply yarn, you spin two bobbins of singles, you take the ends of those two yarns and spin them together onto a third bobbin.  What I didn't tell them was that when you spin, you always spin in one direction (most people spin clockwise which is called "Spinning Z-twist).  However, when you ply, you must ply in the opposite direction (counter-clockwise for most, called "Spinning S-twist).   There is also another way to ply called "Navaho Plying"  or "N-Ply".  I've tried this with lousy results, but will definitely keep trying.  With the N-ply, you are actually "hand crocheting".  You attach your single to a bobbin on your wheel.  You then make a loop and you  pull  another loop through that loop, you begin your spinning and you just keep chaining, as you spin, until you are done.  It is fascinating and hypnotic to watch, look it up on U-Tube!   This makes a  three-ply yarn.  It is often used when people want more control over the color of their finished yarn.  You can choose where to begin your loop based on a color, if you want multi-hued yarn.  

Plying gives extra strength and volume to your yarn.  It also help to even out places that may have too much twist in them.  It oftens help to smooth out my amateur yarn by helping to even out the spots that I spun thick and spots I spun thin.  When I'm a good spinner, I will be able to spin a consistent yarn (this may take a while!).  But here's the thing . . . when you play a musical instrument and you are learning, you simply play "bad" music.  When you are learning to spin and have all kinds of lumps and bumps and inconsistencies, you are making 'Art Yarn".  Bonus!  lol.  I'm a big fan of art yarn!  I have read, many times over, that once you master the ability to made a consistent and balanced yarn (balanced refers to the right amount of "twist" -- not too much, not too little), it is very difficult to go back and make your thick and thin, lumpy, bumpy art yarn!

This is such an addictive hobby!  One thing keeps leading to another.  I started with knitting and crocheting.  I knew all along that I loved the tactile sensation of handling the yarn as well as creating something unique.  Which led me to desire to  spin.  Now, the siren song of dying wool is calling me.  Lucky for me, my sink is too full of dirty dishes to even attempt that now!